June 7, 2011
Having your chest on the receiving end of a drill press ain’t the greatest feeling. Granted, I wasn’t cut open, but it left a slight aftertaste of violation. So I took a bath in Listerine. Nevertheless, I’m glad to have finished the paternity test of my baby. This was a major hurdle before I headed to the delivery room…or chemo chair.
My ribs were just now feeling better from the first thoracentesis and I was getting confidence back in my burps. But all good things must come to an end, and just like that, I’m sleeping upright on the couch again, hoping not to burp or even worse, sneeze. Sneeze pains are like the burp pains on nitrous. They’re absolutely terrifying. You can’t stop a sneeze even if you tried. You don’t know how big it’s going to be until you do it. Holding them in, only makes them worse. They’re an unpredictable, explosive, lung piercing, good time.
Since that fateful call from my doctor, I had been dieting, trying to be as healthy as I could. My dad recommended I get myself physically ready for the tough road ahead. Whether surgery or chemo was on my horizon, my body was going to be put to the test. My Aunt Suzy told me about a low alkaline diet. Why not give it a try? My last meal SHOULD be a kale and quinoa salad. On a low alkaline diet you remove the sweet, sour, savory, chewy, crunchy, tasty and delicious from your diet. Then you wash it all down with a glass of baking soda and water. It’s a low carb, low sugar, low dignity diet. I recommend it! The theory is to eat like a caveman: all natural, fruits and veggies…like we did before Happy Meals. Processed foods, meats, sugars, dairy and carbs are acidic, therefore, harder for your body to break down, causing your immune system to work overtime. In turn, your body becomes vulnerable to cancer and other opportunistic diseases. Your body is naturally alkaline. This diet returns your body closer to its natural alkaline levels so your body can be in harmony, etc., etc. Breathe in…hold…breathe. The system made sense, so I stuck to it. Plus, I wanted to look like Gollum before I embarked on my epic journey.
My aunts, uncles and sister, Dani, came over to the house to visit. They brought over food and we gathered around the dining table and talked. I ate the paper bag the food came in. Unlike the normal gatherings where sarcasm is thrown around freely, this meeting is about me and my health. You can’t help but try to keep the conversation light when we all see the dark cloud hovering over me, raining down uncertainty. I told them how serious it was…”I haven’t had a beer in three weeks!”
It’s such a weird feeling talking about my situation. I don’t like talking about myself to begin with, let alone having my family look at me with trepidation in their eyes. Not the norm. Taking in my every word, looking for any way they can help out. The hugs are tighter and they hold a few beats longer. The handshakes firmer with eyes locked on mine. Everyone is pouring their heart out to me and I don’t know how to handle it. Sure the attention is nice, but all you want is for them to make fun of you again. The norm.
I was texting my best friend, Regan. We’ve been friends since day one (of first grade). He was the best man in my wedding and I was his. I’m the godfather of his first son. If I craved White Castle burgers, he’d offer to drive. I gave him the update on the biopsy and everything. My condition had been hard on my friends as well. He tells me, “stay strong…I need you around.” You have no idea the impact a simple text like this has. I know I use the term surreal a lot, but there’s no other way to describe a moment like this. The guy you normally have BS conversations about the Lakers or what stupid shit you did over the weekend, is now telling you how important you are to him. C’mon! Drama like this belongs on Lifetime, not in my texts from Regan. These moments will buckle your knee and turn you into a sobby mess, but they can also empower you. “Stay strong?” I will, brother.
Another scheduled appointment with the oncologist and we wait for the results from the biopsy. We put on our sunglasses, Erica slipped into her patent leather jumpsuit and we headed back into the Matrix.